Four takeaways from Penn State’s win over Villanova


In the first three games of the season, Penn State had struggled to direct the ball, with most of those struggles coming against Wisconsin and Auburn. Fighting to get the ball running against the Badgers and Tigers is understandable. After all, they’re two of FBS’s best Front 7s and maybe the top two Penn State will face this season.

No offense towards Villanova, but the Wildcat Front 7 is not the one that should be able to negate the Nittany Lion’s hasty attack. Despite this, for most of the day on Saturday, racing lanes were scarce for Penn State running backs.

On a 3rd and 2 in the first quarter John Lovett struggled to gain a yard, Penn State then took a shot at the 4th and 1 where they only converted due to a strong second effort from Noah Cain. In the second quarter, Penn State scored the 1st and the goal at 9. After Keyvone Lee slipped and fell trying to make a cut at 1st base, Mike Yurcich gave up the run altogether and threw twice before Jordan Stout is not summoned for a field placement attempt.

There was a 3rd & 2 in the second quarter where Lovett was abandoned for a loss of a yard on a game that never stood a chance. Then, on the 4th down and completing at Brenton Strange, he was canceled by a possession from Rasheed Walker. Penn State also had a running game that went nowhere on a 3rd and 2 early in the 4th quarter.

As the first half unfolded, the pass blocking started to struggle more and more. Clifford went from having clean pockets and time to throw to being forced to move around and throw rushing throws, which no doubt contributed to games where he had open chess options and didn’t have them. not seen.

Penn State ran the ball 34 times for 80, which comes down to 2.4 yards per carry. It would be a bad number against any team. Against an FCS defense? Inexcusable. Phil Trautwein and company must repair this offensive line and in turn the rushed play as soon as possible.

Stick to the racing game …

Penn State’s most successful running back on Saturday was by far John Lovett. While Noah Cain may still be the most talented on the Penn State roster, Lovett’s skill set is best suited for running behind an offensive line that struggles to consistently open holes and holes. racing tracks.

Lovett ran 45 meters on 11 cavities for the winner. While that’s just 4.1 yards per carry, compared to the rest of Penn State’s rushing offense, it feels like a god-sent send off. What made this possible was that Lovett is the type of full-back who can succeed behind a struggling offensive line. Lovett has better burst than any other fullback on the roster and has the ability to be sneaky in the open field that the other fullbacks don’t.

Noah Cain and Keyvone Lee are both good backers. However, for these two full-backs, their strength is their ability to be powerful full-backs. With an offensive line struggling to block you need a running back who can tackle, mess up defenders and then light the burners, that’s Lovett.

When the Nittany Lions were at their best during the James Franklin era, the big plays were a staple of the offense. After a worrying lack of big plays in 2020, the big plays are back for the Nittany Lions.

Chunk played by Saquon Barkley, Chris Godwin, DaeSean Hamilton, Mike Gesicki, KJ Hamler, Pat Freiermuth and Journey Brown were staples of 11 winning teams in 2016, 2017 and 2019. This season the Nittany Lions got these coins from like Jahan Dotson, Parker Washington, KeAndre Lambert-Smith, John Lovett, Brenton Strange and Theo Johnson.

On Saturday afternoon, the Nittany Lion offense made 7 plays for at least 25 yards and 4 for over 50 yards. This included a trio of touchdowns that totaled over 25 yards, two of which covered 50+.

Major plays played a huge role in Penn State’s victories over Wisconsin and Auburn. They certainly played a big role again on Saturday afternoon. Hitting five or six pieces like this per game can also help compensate for a rushed attack in difficulty.

Ji’Ayir Brown intercepted a pass from Daniel Smith on Villanova’s first possession in the second half. This gave the Nittany Lions 10-game turnover, the FBS’s second longest active streak, and brought their turnover margin for the season to +7. That said, the opportunity was here for more.

Brown had a first quarter interception quashed by a brutal passer penalty that led to a Villanova field goal. Later in the half, Johny Dixon gave up what would have been an easy pick-6, marking the second straight week the Nittany Lions gave up an easy pick-6. Daequan Hardy also narrowly missed jumping a lane for an interception on Saturday.

Fortunately, the missed opportunities by the Nittany Lion defense, in large part because of their good play, haven’t hurt them this season. Against people like Iowa or Ohio State, it could come back to bite them, however. To move forward, Brent Pry’s unit must seize these opportunities.

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